Book Review: The Siren and the Specter
On the banks of the Rappahannock River stands the infamous Alexander House. For centuries it has built a reputation as one of the most haunted houses in America. As the tale goes, a sadist known as “the Governor” Judson Alexander, lived in this house in the 1700’s, dishing out his cruelty on all who lived in the area. This is why the skeptical David Caine takes up residence here, to once and for all disprove the years of legend and myth surrounding the house. His attempts at investigating the Alexander House are complicated by; two obnoxious neighbors and their children, a tough but fair sheriff, and a woman who lives across the water he feels a growing attraction towards. As if this were not enough, he also finds himself haunted by the home’s connection to a dark chapter from his own past.
To be honest I thought I had this book figured out for much of the narrative’s first act. A well-read skeptic sees their beliefs shaken by the true paranormal so they must overcome it and exorcise their own personal demons from past trauma, is a story we have all seen. But then author Jonathan Janz dropped an interesting twist, and then another interesting twist, and then more revelations would hit changing the dynamic of the narrative and keeping the reader hooked. Granted there are moments where it seems excessive, especially in the book’s Afterward, but not enough to spoil things. By the time we reach the climax, we realize that much of this story did not turn out the way we expected. Speaking of the ending, this is where Jonathan Janz gets to show off as he pours on the nightmare fuel and keeps you on the edge of your seat flipping the pages. Janz should be applauded for giving the protagonist David a believable and complete character evolution throughout the book. For much of the Siren and the Specter he is not the most likable of people, and there truly times the reader will actually feel his suffering may be a bit justified. But by the book’s end he has truly grown and changed into a far better person, not perfect but a better man who is aware of his flaws and is trying to fix them.
The Siren and the Specter is an absolute blast of a book as Jonathan Janz continues to show why he is one of the best horror authors in recent years. The story takes plot elements of haunted house stories we all know about and brings a unique take on them. This is truly one of the most fun books on the shelves right now.